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'Rubber boots season' as historical high temperatures hit the territories

cbc.ca logo cbc.ca 2019-03-19 CBC/Radio-Canada
a group of people walking in the snow: The Snowking's Winter Festival snow castle on Yellowknife Bay will be temporarily closed during day time hours to preserve the snow during a territory-wide warm spell. © Mark Hadlari/CBC The Snowking's Winter Festival snow castle on Yellowknife Bay will be temporarily closed during day time hours to preserve the snow during a territory-wide warm spell.

Unseasonably high temperatures are breaking records, some in an extreme way in the territories, on Tuesday.

As of 2 p.m. Mountain Time, the community of Nahanni Butte was the N.W.T.'s hot spot, passing the 20 C mark, according to Environment Canada. That number blew past its previously recorded high temperature of 12 C for March 19, set in 2003.

Fort Liard has already reached 17 degrees and has a forecasted high of 19. That number would blow past the current record high for March 19, which was set at 12.5 C in 1979.

The community is known as the "tropics of the North," according to Hillary Deneron, who works at the general store in Fort Liard, but even this is pretty surprising.

"That's crazy. I know a lot of people, they travel to Fort Simpson and they're talking about not wanting to cross the ice road because of the water on the ice," Deneron said.

Her biggest concern is whether the annual fishing derby in Fort Liard will go ahead as usual.

Another drawback to the rising temperatures is slush that seems to be inescapable — even on the community's roads.

"You can't walk anywhere with runners on… It's pretty sloppy within the community with all the the slush and the mud around," Deneron said.

Luckily, the general store sells a quick and easy solution: rubber boots.

"They're definitely hot sellers right now," Deneron said with a laugh.

Even though Nahanni Butte has currently claimed the title as the territories' hot spot, Deline, N.W.T. was forecast to break its weather record by the most: Its previous high on March 19 was set in 1998, at -7.3 C, and it was forecast to hit 10 C on Tuesday. As of 2 p.m., it's up to 8 C.

The Environment Canada weather record data goes back further for some communities than others, with some having data collection beginning in the 1990s and others going back to the 1940s.

Other heavy hitters include Coville Lake, forecast to hit 7 C, Fort Simpson, forecast to hit 16 C, Gameti, forcast to hit 10 C and Colville Lake, forecast to hit 7 C.

All but two communities in the Northwest Territories were forecast to break records on Tuesday, putting the expected records there at 25. As of 2 p.m., 19 communities had set new Environment Canada highs for March 19.

Seven Yukon communities, including Whitehorse, had broken daily records as of Tuesday afternoon. Kugluktuk, in Nunavut, was also forecast to have a record high temperature Tuesday.

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